Tag Archives: Feed the Hungry

Project Connect continues efforts to feed hungry families in North Nashville

When a tornado touched down March 3 and left a 60-mile path of devastation through Middle Tennessee,  Project Connect Nashville knew what it had to do: Serve hot meals to North Nashville residents whose neighborhoods had been badly damaged.

The day after the storm, PCN — whose mission is to build relationships with individuals stuck in a cycle of poverty and connect them to the faith community, living wage jobs, and stable housing — established a central command for recovery, food, and supplies distribution.

PCN employees Quanita Thomas and the Rev. Ella Clay were essential in startup operations. Clay offered the church at which she pastors, the Historic First Community Church at 1815 Knowles St., and Thomas assisted with making connections in the neighborhood, helping even though her own home was damaged by the storm.

Volunteers feed those in North Nashville following the March 3 tornado. [Project Connect Nashville]
Volunteers immediately began tracking of the needs of the neighborhood’s residents: Who lived where, how many meals each house needed, and even whether a home had names to add to their ongoing prayer list. The first two weeks after the storm were the most demanding because many of the homes did not have power, said Laura Ingram, PCN’s North Nashville Location Manager.

“We have about 400 addresses of people who we try to feed multiple times a week,” Ingram said. Those residents include families and those whose mobility is limited, such as seniors and individuals with disabilities, who otherwise would not have been able to access food in the wake of the disaster.

PCN, in partnership with Just the Crumbs — a faith-based mobile food unit from Columbia, Miss. — now serves and delivers meals five days a week, and offers essential resources to the community two hours a day at its North Nashville Resource Center at 1811 Knowles Street.

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Just The Crumbs is a disaster relief ministry that has been aiding PCN with food distribution efforts in North Nashville. [Project Connect Nashville]
When COVID-19 got a foothold in Middle Tennessee two weeks after the tornado and more people began staying at home, Ingram says PCN’s volunteer numbers began to dwindle. But she and her colleagues continued their efforts.

“Serving people food was something we really felt we needed to keep doing as it’s too risky for the elderly and disabled to get out and shop for fresh foods,” Ingram says.

As a precaution, PCN is limiting volunteer groups to six people, who are asked to maintain a safe distance when delivering meals. The organization provides gloves, and volunteers are asked to bring their own masks if possible.

“These volunteers are invaluable to us because PCN feels it does take a village to love this wide variety of people and neighborhoods,” Ingram says. “It’s something we can’t do alone, but together we are able to check on everybody and make sure no one is falling through the cracks.”

The idea for Project Connect Nashville was birthed out of the 2010 flood, when PCN’s executive director, Alan Murdock, coordinated recovery in partnership with the East Nashville community through his garden center in Five Points. The organization has now opened campuses in South and North Nashville, and offers classes to provide knowledge, skills, and encouragement, while offering a faith community to support individuals through life’s joys and struggles.

To volunteer with Project Connect Nashville, sign up here. For a list of needed donations, click here.

HON Volunteer Bonnie Zacovic Finds the Silver Lining Through Service

Did you know that every HON-coordinated volunteer opportunity is led by a Hands On Nashville Volunteer Leader? Whether they are leading bingo night at a retirement home, dinner at Hope Lodge, or goalball with the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes, these folks are dedicated, compassionate volunteers who commit to leading the same project on a regular basis. Simply put, Volunteer Leaders are at the heart of what we do, and they have some remarkable stories. Here’s one of them:

When Bonnie Zacovic was laid off from her job in 2009, she knew she had a choice to make. She could either be depressed about it, or she could use the opportunity to help others.

“I decided to look for the silver lining,” Bonnie says. “I had been working solid for 25 years … I had been traveling all the time, working long hours, and was not able to give time to anything else but my job and my family.”

“So I realized I was given a gift of time – time to give back, time to help others less fortunate, time to get involved with the community.”

Bonnie volunteering with The Nashville Food ProjectBonnie preparing The Nashville Food Project truck for a Sunday delivery.

When devastating floods struck the Middle Tennessee area in May of last year, Bonnie began volunteering with Hands On Nashville and she hasn’t looked back since. She now serves as the Volunteer Leader for two projects with The Nashville Food Project.

“I like these projects because of what they do. They provide the basic need of food and water to the most distraught population in our community, the homeless. This situation could happen to any one of us at any time, and being part of a solution that gives them hope in humanity is so rewarding. This is what we are supposed to do. We are supposed to help those in need, not turn away… These are our neighbors, and they need us.”

Fun facts about Bonnie:
•    Native of Cleveland, Ohio who has lived in Tennessee since 1994
•    Works full time as a senior project manager
•    Enjoys spending her free time supporting her youngest son, 16, on the soccer field, and loves working out; has completed several half marathons and one full marathon – Go, Bonnie!
•    What advice would she give to new volunteers? “Pick opportunities that speak to your heart, and try things that will take you out of your comfort zone. I would also recommend that if you can’t get a group of your friends to volunteer with you, do it yourself anyway. It is so great to meet new people and when you go alone, it forces you to interact with everyone.”

Food Prep with The Nashville Food Project (TNFP), and Feed the Hungry with TNFP occur on the second Sunday of each month from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., respectively. Visit our Opportunity Calendar at http://www.HON.org to learn more and to sign up.